Kete is being upgraded – Library Life article (April 2014)

Taking a look at a modern library service in the age of Facebook

Kete is getting an upgrade. Founded in 2007 as an open-source project, well over 40 installations of Kete run throughout New Zealand. Since those early days, discussion of the relevance of digital heritage and digital preservation has become more prominent. Many library sector discussions consider involving the community in digital heritage – Kete’s strength is in community-contributed collections.

We recently announced an update to the technical upgrade project and are seeking expressions of interest via the Horowhenua Library Trust for NZ libraries to maintain their Kete instances, and prepare to increase activity in their collections.

Using Kete to realise community value

How might you go about planning a digital heritage campaign in your community and who would be involved? While the open nature of Kete attracts the general public, history indicates local community groups value the project most as it enables cooperation, collaboration and documentation of activities that can be informal and difficult to otherwise record. This might be a local heritage interest group such as the Otago Memory Bank ; it might be an ethnic group of tangata whenua or migrant communities; or it might allow the documenting of Cuba Street history, leveraging multilingual capabilities to consider all perspectives. With a clear project purpose, it’s very compelling to share images, records, and notes, building stories together. In the context of creating diverse digital heritage, these collections can easily be set to be indexed within Digital NZ and can be found by anyone searching for these stories.

Kete also has easy API access to display items around the web, such as within a content management system, social media or in a museum display. This can make local displays and presentations far less technically demanding, when Kete serves as an enduring repository of collection records and assets.

A great example of Kete being used to meet community needs came in the advent of the Rena disaster. Smita Biswas in Tauranga coordinated interested community members to take records of the emerging history of the event. In the context of social media telling the story in real-time, Kete enabled an element of scrapbooking, as a chronicle of perspectives as they occurred. The case study was presented at the LIANZA conference and you can read more here.

Technology Considerations

The project very easily extends to be searchable with Digital NZ. It also can be customised to reference other database results. This flexible sharing of data works well to allow a holistic merging of various databases for use online.

The current generation of the codebase is now outdated and very challenging to manage. The major upgrade underway is a critical step to ensure the software foundations of Kete are improved and stable.

There has not been any dedicated maintenance budget of the software for some time, making this phase the most technically challenging. Rabid have a roadmap of user-focused improvements and features and it makes sense to improve the experience to be easy-to-use and accessible to meet users’ expectations of a web service.

Modernising the software and releasing this as opensource will give complete control over the solution to libraries, but we’re working hard on support packages. There are other considerations to keep the software modern, and we’ve developed a plan to build sustainability into New Zealand’s efforts.

Kete projects do require resource to support and encourage uptake in NZ communities. We would be happy to provide guidance and examples of successful projects to assist your planning.

So, please consider the potential of your library or district using Kete.

Latest Progress Report:

The Case for Kete – Original Proposal:

Expressions of Interest

Please contact Horowhenua Library Trust by email:

Josh Forde, Rabid

Joann Ransom, Horowhenua Library Trust

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